Observe Others’ Past Energy Experiences

By Dr. Charles Battig

Editor, Times-Dispatch: Gov. Bob McDonnell’s “all-of-the-above strategy” on energy has an open-minded appeal. However, this is no reason to ignore the energy production experience of others.

Spain was President Obama’s model for a green-energy jobs market. The financial meltdown in Europe revealed the unsustainable levels of Spanish tax subsidies propping up solar and wind-power industries. More jobs were destroyed than created at a reported ratio of nine lost to four created.

Danish consumers pay one of the highest electric rates in spite of their embrace of onand offshore wind turbines. Denmark deals with the erratic nature of wind power by dumping excess wind power energy into Sweden’s hydroelectric dams and into the German energy market at a subsidized cost to the Danish consumer. The recent Bentek wind power analysis indicates that wind turbine power in Texas and Utah is overall more polluting because of the on-off, inefficient operation of the gas-turbine backup power plants. U.S. wind and solar tax subsidies average 20 times those for nuclear and oil (U.S. Energy Information Agency).

The report of algae (or switchgrass) used to produce fuel is not new. The question is why bother. Coal, oil, and natural gas are the original biofuels and are in abundance. The cost of natural gas has collapsed, putting T. Boone Pickens’ Texas wind-farm project on hold. Federal policy and environmentalists are the impediments to our energy self-sufficiency.

Doug Domenech wants to encourage cost-effective energy alternatives. Cost-effective for whom? The energy producers or Virginia taxpayers? Page 6-2 of the “2010 Virginia Energy Plan” (Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy) lists many incentives for renewable energy, including a standard calling for 15 percent production from renewables with an enhanced rate-of-return to the utilities, grants, incentive funds, and tax credits. All of these are Virginia taxpayer costs, not entrepreneurs risking their own money.

Charles Battig. President, Piedmont Chapter, Virginia Scientists and Engineers For Energy and Environment. Charlottesville.

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